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New GOP chair backs ban on same-sex marriage

Log Cabin is hopeful Priebus will support ‘big tent’ policy



Reince Priebus of Wisconsin was elected the new RNC chair. He has supported the GOP platform language opposing same-sex marriage and also supported a ban on civil unions. (Photo courtesy of Wisconsin GOP)

The head of Log Cabin Republicans said he is hopeful that the newly elected chair of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, would maintain cordial relations with LGBT Republicans, even though Priebus supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Priebus, 38, chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party, defeated controversial RNC Chair Michael Steele and four other candidates in a hotly contested race for the RNC leadership post at an RNC meeting in suburban Maryland on Jan. 14.

In a Jan. 3 debate at the National Press Club in Washington, Priebus, Steele and the three other candidates for the RNC chair position each said they believe marriage should be restricted to a union between a man and a woman.

“I don’t believe that judges can rewrite the Constitution and redraft what marriage is,” Priebus said during the debate. “I think…there’s a sanctity of marriage…I believe my kids and believe children should grow up with one father and a mother if possible,” he said.

He then added, “I don’t believe anybody should be denied dignity in this discussion, everyone should be loved. But at the end of the day, I believe that marriage, through the sanctity of marriage, should be between one man and one woman.”

In an earlier interview broadcast on YouTube with Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, the leading group opposing same-sex marriage, Priebus said he supports the Republican Party platform position on marriage, which calls for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

He also noted in his interview with Gallagher, which took place shortly after he entered the race for RNC chair, that he was a strong advocate for the Wisconsin state constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriage and civil unions. Voters in the state approved that amendment in 2006.

“I was a part of that,” he said. “I was helpful to make sure that that happened…It’s an important issue because I believe marriage is a gift from God and the sanctity of marriage ought to be protected,” he told Gallagher.

“I believe the Defense of Marriage Act is important,” he continued in the interview. And it’s something that certainly as chairman of the Republican National Committee that we ought to be committed to.”

In marked contrast, the Democratic Party platform expresses opposition to both a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which it calls for repealing.

DOMA, which Congress passed in 1996, defines marriage under federal law as a union only between a man and a woman. The law prevents same-sex couples married in states that have legalized such unions from receiving any federal benefits or rights related to marriage.

The GOP platform also recognizes “the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service” while the Democratic platform called for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

The subject of gays in the military did not come up in the debate among RNC chair candidates or in Gallagher’s interview with Priebus. But in discussing the GOP platform, Priebus told Gallagher, “I have no beef with any part of that platform that’s set forth within the Republican National Committee.”

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, joined other GOP leaders in releasing a statement on the day Priebus was elected RNC chair calling for party unity and inclusion.

“As Chairman Priebus stated, ‘we must come together over common interests. We must unite,’” Cooper said in his statement.

“I look forward to continuing our successful partnership with the Republican National Committee, and urge Chairman Priebus to continue the Committee’s strong record of coalition-building, which was an important part of GOP success in 2010,” he said.

Cooper said Log Cabin did not take sides in the RNC chair race. He said he personally supported one of the candidates but declined to say which one.

GOProud, a national organization representing “gay conservatives and their allies,” called Priebus’ election as party chair “a good day for conservatives and for the Republican Party.”

Christopher Barron, chair of GOProud’s board, said the group worked hard for Steele’s defeat but did not say if it backed another candidate. GOProud was among a number of conservative groups that criticized Steele for making a statement last year saying the U.S. could not achieve its objectives in the war in Afghanistan.

“Michael Steel’s tenure as chairman can only fairly be characterized as an unmitigated disaster,” Barron said “Were it not for the hard work of outside groups, who were forced to step in to fill the void left by an ineffective RNC, success at the ballot box in November would not have happened.

Robert Kabel, the gay chair of the D.C. Republican Committee, had a far different view on Steele, saying the now ex-GOP chair did an overall good job.

Kabel said he backed Steele’s re-election bid, saying Steele was “highly supportive” of the D.C. Republican Party and of Kabel’s role as the nation’s only out gay leader of a state or local Republican Party committee.

Kabel, who is a member of the RNC, said he voted for former RNC official Maria Cino, another of the candidates competing for the chair post, when Steele dropped out of the race after trailing Priebus in the fourth round of voting.

Cooper noted that Steele had welcomed Log Cabin and gay Republicans in general into the RNC’s fold during his two-year tenure as RNC chair and hired at least one out gay staffer to work at the RNC’s Coalitions Department, which reached out to Republican constituency groups like College Republicans, Young Republicans, and Log Cabin.

Kabel, who like Cooper, declined to identify the gay staffer, said the staffer is among nearly a dozen RNC staff members that Priebus fired or who resigned during his first week in office.

Both said the firings and resignations were part of the normal personnel changes that take place whenever a new party chair takes office.

The Hill newspaper reported that Priebus dismissed most of the staff that had been hired by Steele to work on the 2012 Republican National Convention.

“They recognized the gay community, they were very open to Log Cabin and they were really delighted when Clarke Cooper was finally selected as the new Log Cabin director,” Kabel said of the RNC Coalitions Department under Steele’s tenure.

Cooper said he could not say for sure but he expected Priebus to keep the Coalitions Department in place, although he said the new party chair might rename it or change its place within the RNC structure.

A staff member with the RNC’s press office, who identified himself only as Michael, said he would seek to obtain a response to a Blade inquiry about Priebus’ plans for the Coalitions Department and its interaction with Log Cabin. The staffer did not get back by press time.

Priebus led in the balloting in a protracted election in which the 168-member RNC was unable to deliver the 85 votes needed to elect a chair until Priebus finally obtained 97 votes on the seventh round of voting.

In addition to Steele, the other candidates in the race were Cino, a former Bush administration official who had been friendly to Log Cabin; Ann Wagner of Missouri; and Saul Anuzis of Michigan.

In a related development, on the same day Priebus won his race for RNC chair, the RNC elected D.C. resident and longtime Republican activist Tony Parker as RNC treasurer, which is considered the second most important post at the RNC. Parker has held the position of Republican National Committeeman from D.C. His views on LGBT issues could not be immediately determined.

On Jan. 6, the D.C. Republican Committee voted unanimously to re-elect Kabel as chair for another two-year term.


State Department

State Department hosts intersex activists from around the world

Group met with policy makers, health officials, NGOs



The State Department last week hosted a group of intersex activists from around the world. (Courtesy photo)

The State Department last week hosted five intersex activists from around the world.

Kimberly Zieselman, a prominent intersex activist who advises Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad, brought the activists to D.C.

• Morgan Carpenter, co-founder and executive director of Intersex Human Rights Australia

• Natasha Jiménez, an intersex activist from Costa Rica who is the general coordinator of Mulabi, the Latin American Space for Sexualities and Rights

• Julius Kaggwa, founder of the Support Initiative for People with Atypical Sex Development Uganda

• Magda Rakita, co-founder and executive director of Fujdacja Interakcja in Poland and co-founder of Interconnected UK

• Esan Regmi, co-founder and executive director of the Campaign for Change in Nepal.

Special U.S. Envoy for Global Youth Issues Abby Finkenauer and Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine are among the officials with whom the activists met.

Zieselman told the Washington Blade on Sept. 21 the activists offered State Department officials an “intersex 101” overview during a virtual briefing.

More than 60 Save the Children staffers from around the world participated in another virtual briefing. Zieselman noted the activists also met with Stern, U.N. and Organization of American States officials, funders and NGO representatives while in D.C.

“The people we met were genuinely interested,” Rakita told the Blade.

Stern in an exclusive statement to the Blade said “the visiting intersex activists clearly had an impact here at State, sharing their expertise and lived experience highlighting the urgency to end human rights abuses, including those involving harmful medical practices against intersex persons globally.” Andrew Gleason, senior director for gender equality and social justice at Save the Children US, in a LinkedIn post he wrote after attending his organization’s meeting with the activists echoed Stern.

“There are many learnings to recount from today’s discussion, but one thing is clear, this is unequivocally a child rights issue, and one that demands attention and action at the intersection of LGBTQI+ rights, reproductive rights and justice, disability justice and more,” wrote Gleason. “Gratitude to the panelists for sharing such poignant testimonies and providing insights into what organizations like ours can do to contribute to the broader intersex movement; and thank you to Kimberly for your leadership and bringing this group together.”

The activists’ trip to D.C. coincided with efforts to end so-called sex “normalization” surgeries on intersex children.

Greek lawmakers in July passed a law that bans such procedures on children under 15 unless they offer their consent or a court allows them to happen. Doctors who violate the statute face fines and prison.

Germany Iceland, Malta, Portugal and Spain have also enacted laws that seek to protect intersex youth. 

A law that grants equal rights and legal recognition to intersex people in Kenya took effect in July 2022. Lawmakers in the Australian Capital Territory earlier this year passed the Variation in Sex Characteristics (Restricted Medical Treatment) Bill 2023.

Intersex Human Rights Australia notes the law implements “mechanisms to regulate non-urgent medical care to encourage child participation in medical decisions, establish groundbreaking oversight mechanisms and provide transparency on medical practices and decision making.” It further points out the statute “will criminalize some deferrable procedures that permanently alter the sex characteristics of children” and provides “funding for necessary psychosocial supports for families and children.”

“It’s amazing,” Carpenter told the Blade when discussing the law and resistance to it. “It’s not perfect. There was some big gaps, but physicians are resisting every step of the way.”

The State Department in April 2022 began to issue passports with an “X” gender marker.

Dana Zzyym, an intersex U.S. Navy veteran who identifies as non-binary, in 2015 filed a federal lawsuit against the State Department after it denied their application for a passport with an “X” gender marker. Zzyym in October 2021 received the first gender-neutral American passport.

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Federal Government

Federal government prepares for looming shutdown

White House warns of ‘damaging impacts across the country’



U.S. Capitol Building (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

However remote they were on Monday, odds of avoiding a government shutdown were narrowed by Thursday evening as House Republicans continued debate over their hyper-partisan appropriations bills that stand no chance of passage by the Upper Chamber.

As lawmakers in the Democratic controlled Senate forged ahead with a bipartisan stop-gap spending measure that House GOP leadership had vowed to reject, the federal government began bracing for operations to grind to a halt on October 1.

This would mean hundreds of thousands of workers are furloughed as more than 100 agencies from the State Department to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation roll out contingency plans maintained by the White House Office of Management and Budget. On Thursday the Office of Personnel Management sent out memos to all agencies instructing them to ready for a shutdown on Sunday.

Before 1980, operations would continue per usual in cases where Congress failed to break an impasse over spending, as lapses in funding tended to last only a few days before lawmakers brokered a deal.

Since then, the government has shut down more than a dozen times and the duration has tended to become longer and longer.

“Across the United States, local news outlets are reporting on the harmful impacts a potential government shutdown would have on American families,” the White House wrote in a release on Thursday featuring a roundup of reporting on how the public might be affected.

“With just days left before the end of the fiscal year, extreme House Republicans are playing partisan games with peoples’ lives and marching our country toward a government shutdown that would have damaging impacts across the country,” the White House said.

The nature and extent of that damage will depend on factors including how long the impasse lasts, but the Biden-Harris administration has warned of some consequences the American public is likely to face.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for example, warned: “There is no good time for a government shutdown, but this is a particularly bad time for a government shutdown, especially when it comes to transportation.”

Amid the shortage of air traffic controllers and efforts to modernize aviation technology to mitigate flight delays and cancellations, a government shutdown threatens to “make air travel even worse,” as Business Insider wrote in a headline Thursday.

Democratic lawmakers including California Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, meanwhile, have sounded the alarm in recent weeks over the consequences for the global fight against AIDS amid the looming expiration, on Oct. 1, of funding for PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

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Federal Government

QAnon follower pleads guilty to threatening member of Congress

Conspiracy movement claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world



QAnon banner at a pro-gun rally in Richmond, Va., in 2020. (YouTube screenshot from Anthony Crider)

A New Mexico man has entered a plea deal after being charged with a federal criminal complaint of making threats through interstate communications directed at a member of Congress.

Federal prosecutors charged Michael David Fox, a resident of Doña Ana County, for calling the Houston district office of an unnamed member of Congress on or about May 18, 2023, and uttering threats that included knowingly threatening to kill an active member of Congress.

The plea agreement was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Damian L. Martinez of U.S. District Court in New Mexico in the Las Cruces by Fox’s attorney from the Federal Public Defender’s Office in August.

According to the criminal complaint as outlined by a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal investigator for the Albuquerque Field Office, Las Cruces Resident Agency, on May 18 at approximately 9:04 p.m. Fox called the office of a congresswoman for the District of Texas, U.S. House of Representatives (Victim One/”V1″), who is from Houston. The call was received by V1’s office.

In the phone call Fox stated “Hey [Vl], you’re a man. It’s official. You’re literally a tranny and a pedophile, and I’m going to put a bullet in your fucking face. You mother fucking satanic cock smoking son of a whore. You understand me you fucker?” 

Law enforcement was able to trace the call back to Las Cruces, N.M., and it was believed that Fox was the user of cell phone account used to make the call. According to the FBI agents who interviewed Fox, he admitted to making the call.

Fox acknowledged that the threat was direct but claimed that he did not own any guns. Fox
claimed to be a member of the Q2 Truth Movement, the Q Movement. Fox explained these
movements believe all over the world there were transgender individuals running
governments, kingdoms and corporations. 

Fox told the FBI that there is a plan called “Q the Plan to Save the World” which he learned about from an online video. Fox claimed that he believed Q was going to engage in the “eradication” of the people who were causing all the world’s misery. He believed that part of the eradication had already happened.

Fox explained that he had run Vl’s skull features through forensic analysis and determined
that Vl was born male and is now trans. Fox discussed his military service with the
U.S. Air Force, “Q the Plan to Save the World,” and how God communicates using

Fox continued to reiterate several different types of conspiracy theories indicating
extreme far right ideologies as his explanation for why he conducted the phone call to
threaten V1.

According to the FBI, Fox rescinded his threat against Vl and apologized. Fox claimed he was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs when he made the call. Fox stated he understood how Vl would feel threatened by his phone call, and he acknowledged that anyone he knew or cared about would also be concerned with such a threat.

The charge of interstate threatening communications carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

QAnon began in 2017, when a mysterious figure named “Q” started posting on the online message board 4chan, claiming to have inside access to government secrets. Since then, QAnon has grown into a conspiracy movement that claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles secretly rule the world. It is claimed by QAnon adherents that former President Donald Trump is the only person who can defeat them. 

Brooklyn, N.Y.-based journalist Ana Valens, a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship and sex workers’ rights noted that Fox appears to be a “transvestigator.” Valens noted that the transvestigation conspiracy theory is a fringe movement within QAnon that claims the world is primarily run by trans people. Phrenological analysis is common among transvestigators, with a prominent focus on analyzing celebrities for proof that they are trans.

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